BY GAL TZIPERMAN LOTAN
AND RENE STUTZMAN
ORLANDO SENTINEL / TNS)
ORLANDO – Mayra Alvear picked up the first cross, the one bearing the name of her daughter, Amanda.
Amanda was one of 49 people killed one month ago at Pulse, the Orlando nightclub where a gunman opened fire in the middle of the dance floor.
Her cross was like the other 48: white, 3-feet high with a big red heart near its base and a photo of a victim at its base. What made hers different was what made each unique: The messages left by well-wishers.
On Tuesday, family, volunteers and public officials helped move those 49 crosses from Orlando Regional Medical Center to the Orange County Regional History Museum. The crosses were a part of a make-shift memorial near the emergency room where many of the survivors were treated.
Greg Zanis, 65, built the wooden crosses a few days after the June 12 massacre and drove them 1,200 miles from his home near Chicago to ORMC, which is part of Orlando Health. They stood, like sentries, on the shore of Lake Beauty.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs carried the last one, a cross honoring Cory James Connell, 21, an Edgewater High School graduate who wanted to be a firefighter.
“We’re deeply honored to accept these 49 crosses into the permanent collection of the Orange County History Center,” she said. “We are showing the world that this community cannot be divided.”
She then called for the small crowd of people who had gathered to observe 49 seconds of silence.